Camping With Hammocks

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

What is hammock camping?

 The most common shelter associated with camping is a tent. However, an excellent alternative to an ordinary tent is a hammock. Hammock camping refers to the act of sleeping in a hammock rather than your usual tent. It is primarily a bed designed for outdoor activities, and it is similar to a swing with attachment cables on both sides. 

How to do hammock camping

 A hammock setup does not require any special skills nor an assistant to assemble. However, certain factors to consider when setting up your hammock include location, height, and angle.

When hammock camping, the primary thing you should look for is the appropriate location in setting up a hammock. Make sure that the site you have chosen allows the use of hammocks.

Another thing to ensure in the area you have chosen is a parallel pair of trees or poles in which you will be hanging your hammock.

It is advisable to look for trees with a diameter of approximately 6 inches or more and use large thick straps to ensure that your hammock is firmly attached and safe to use. Experienced hammock campers recommend that the maximum height of a hammock set up be 18 inches to avoid unwanted injuries.

The last factor to consider when properly laying out your hammock is the angle. The hammock should be approximately 30 degrees from the ground to guarantee comfort. Other than that, these are the aspects you should consider to enhance your hammock camping experience.

Choose a good hammock for you

In choosing the right hammock for your camping trip, some aspects to keep in mind include weight, material, length, and capacity. When picking the right hammock, weight and material often correlate with each other.

Despite hammocks being usually lightweight, some experienced camping enthusiasts prefer the lightest hammock available. However, most people believe that the lighter the hammock, the less durable the material is.

The length of a hammock is also an aspect to consider, especially for tall individuals, mainly because the preferred length clearance of a hammock to its user’s height should be an additional of at least two more feet. Lastly, an aspect to think about when choosing the right hammock is its weight capacity.

These are the essential aspects to remember when choosing a hammock to ensure your safety and comfort during camping.

Prepare your gear

When planning to engage in hammock camping, the gear you will be needing are a hammock, suspension system, insulating sleeping bag, and a rain tarp. As mentioned before, it is crucial to choose the right hammock for your height and weight to guarantee your comfort and safety.

A piece of equipment to remember when going hammock camping is a strap, an essential component of a hammock that wraps around the tree and holds the hammock in place.

It is advisable to use straps made of polyester (usually sold separately); they are durable and can withstand heavy loads rather than plain bare ropes that often damage tree bark after hammock setup.

The last thing you need to prepare when engaging in hammock camping is a hammock sleeping bag. This helps you retain body heat and provide you with enough warmth needed when you rest at night.

When prepared, these should give you the comfort you desire in acquiring a good night’s sleep for the activities that await you tomorrow.

Use a tarp or rainfly

A tarp or a rainfly is essential when going hammock camping, especially when the weather is unpredictable. The tarp or rainfly will serve as the roof for your hammock and protect you from the sun’s heat, preventing you from getting soaked when it suddenly rains. Like a hammock, a tarp, or a rainfly is easy to set up.

The first step in installing a rainfly is by wrapping the longest strap onto both sides of the hammock straps. Then, spread the tarp by setting the four straps into place; you can either pinpoint the straps onto the ground using a mallet and peg or wrap it around small trees if there are many surrounding you.

When choosing the right tarp for your hammock, a tip to keep in mind is a rule of thumb. The right tarp for you depends on the length of your hammock. You can apply the rule of thumb by adding a minimum allowance of half a foot to a maximum of one foot to your tarp based on the length of your hammock. 

Get a mosquito net

Nowadays, a hammock usually comes along with a mosquito net. If not, you can purchase it separately in your local camping stores. A hammock’s purpose is primarily to protect you from mosquitos and other insects that can cause discomfort when sleeping.

A bug net is essential when hammock camping, especially when you have no clue if your campsite is full of insects. This equipment is portable, lightweight, breathable, and provides you the comfort and protection you need when camping. It is effortless to set it up, mainly if you have a rainfly already assembled.

Bug nets usually have clips or straps attached to them. If you have no tarp/rainfly assembled, you must bring a cord and connect it on both sides of your hammock straps and throughout your hammock. You will only need to snip or strap your bug net on the cable you have recently installed, or if applicable, clip it on your tarp/rainfly strap.

Get a comfortable pillow

When going hammock camping, it is optional to bring a pillow; it is up to the camper’s preference and comfort. A pillow’s primary job is to support your upper body’s alignment when sleeping.

Therefore, there is no shame in bringing one; it is beneficial. However, if you ever decide to pack a pillow along with you in the wild, it is advisable to opt for an inflatable pillow made of rubber. Besides being small, lightweight, and climate-ready, it is also easy to clean whenever dropped. 

Look for the right tree

It is essential to look for the right tree to hang your hammock on, mainly since it will serve as the hammock’s foundation. If possible, look for a pair of parallel trees to hang your hammock. Inspection is also an action to remember when searching for the right tree.

Thoroughly inspect the area for any wildlife living nearby to prevent any dangerous encounters or injuries. It is advisable to look for trees with a decent diameter to ensure that your hammock is firm and secure to use. Lastly, you must be gentle in latching your straps onto the trees to avoid damaging them. 

Are hammocks good for camping?

A hammock is a suitable choice during camping for various reasons, including but is not limited to comfortability, breathability, and convenience.

Comparing a hammock to a traditional camping tent will usually come down to the camper’s preference. Either way, both camping gears serve the same purpose. Each of them has its advantages, but here are the main reasons hammocks are great for camping.

Convenience

Going hammock camping is very convenient. One huge advantage a hammock has against the traditional tent is its portability. It is very lightweight, easy to assemble and disassemble, and takes up little room in your storage. A hammock is an obvious option whenever camping on long camping trips. 

When camping, hammocks are considered one of the most relaxing and comfortable mediums to sleep on due to many factors like their purpose, breathability, and comfort.

Comfortable and relaxing

The convenience it gives is advantageous compared to a tent, mainly because campers install their hammocks above the ground. They avoid worrying about sleeping on an uneven surface, not to mention the possibility of lying on roots and rocks that may affect your sleep.

Sleeping on a hammock has a different feel than sleeping in a tent. The final factor that makes a hammock relaxing is its breathability. Compared to a traditional tent, camping enthusiasts station their hammocks outdoors. Due to this positioning, campers can fully experience and feel the breeze of nature without worrying about ventilation. 

Nowadays, hammocks can offer the features that tents possess, which include a sleeping medium, storage, a roof, and a bug net. Like a tent, a hammock is a resting medium where you can install a tarp/rainfly to protect you from sunny or rainy weather.

Is a hammock warmer than a tent?

Hammocks tend to be cooler than a tent but can still keep you warm, mainly due to their design and location. Manufacturers design this gear to be lightweight, and fabricate them using breathable fabrics such as cotton and polyester.

Compared to tents that are less ventilated and enclosed, hammocks can only be stationed outdoors by their users. This feature fully enables campers to experience the air nature blows at them. Therefore, hammocks are less warm than tents.

Can you put a hammock in a tent?

Installing a hammock inside a tent is impossible. Tents are not designed to be a platform for heavy objects. Rather, they’re made to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Hanging a hammock inside a tent will permanently damage it, not to mention that it’s technically impossible to do so because there are no trees inside a tent that would serve as the hammock’s foundation.

However, it is possible to turn your hammock into a tent, especially since it possesses all the features tents can offer. It is more convenient and practical to choose only one of them when going camping. It is just a matter of personal preference on which one you would pack along the way.